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Monkey Bars – Drum Theatre, Plymouth

Writer &Director: Chris Goode

Reviewer: Marina Spark

[rating:4]

The Drum Theatre at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth is currently home to Monkey Bars, a one act, verbatim piece of theatre using the words and thoughts of over seventy children aged between seven and ten. As a space, the Drum Theatre lends itself well to Monkey Bars, as we are often exposed to candid and intimate thoughts and feelings that would be lost in a cavernous space.

The interview transcripts have been reshaped, becoming a child’s voice spoken through adults in adult situations. The writer/director, Chris Goode, and the company, consisting of six actors have transposed the children’s voices so that the audience hear honest and frank opinions on all the big questions including religion, gender, war and death. Some of the conversations took a bizarre turn leading to really funny moments that had the audience in stitches. Conversely, the truth and vulnerability that a child’s words hold brought a number of highly poignant moments to the performance. Monkey Bars demonstrates that children have an uncluttered view on issues that tangle an adult’s mind, and as a result the audience sit up, listen and learn. It is clear that simple wisdom can be found in the words of a child.

Credit must go to the fantastic ensemble cast for delivering this verbatim piece with such skill. It would have been very easy for the actors to play their rôles as children. The humour and poignancy of the piece is maximised by the straight faced conviction from each actor to play as an adult in an adult world. The messages that Chris Goode has carefully plucked from the conversations with the children are strong and passionate, leaving the audience with the desire for more honesty in life.

With an interesting, yet simple set, great soundtrack and fascinating verbatim transcript this show doesn’t fail to please those wishing to learn a little. The children’s voices in Monkey Bars are observant, moving and endlessly funny; this show is highly recommended.

Runs until 15th September 2012.

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